MyWaves Offers “Free” Mobile Video

Silicon-Valley based MyWaves has plans to launch a service this week that will allow people to stream video from the internet to their mobile phones… “Anyone can download the mywaves application at by inputting a mobile phone number on the Web site. The service then downloads to the cellphone, letting users access any Web video content, including CNN videos, the Ask a Ninja online video series or YouTube clips, among others”, according to TV Week. The service is free, with MyWave making its money through mobile marketing. It also says that the service “could threaten the existing business model of mobile TV by circumventing the need for online video sites to strike deals with cellular carriers”, but I don’t think the carriers are losing much sleep over it. The issue comes down — as it does in most of these services — to how widespread unlimited data plans become, and if people have to pay current data rates “free” becomes “stupidly expensive”. It’s not specified, but it sounds like the content is sent over the air rather than sideloaded. From the press release: “The mywaves service is comprised of a rich, easy-to-use Web site together with software that can be easily downloaded to a mobile phone. The Web site allows consumers to discover, choose and personalize their on-the-go entertainment that is automatically delivered and updated to their mobile phones. mywaves also sends text messages alerting users to content updates in their channels, letting them know when there’s something new to watch.”
The ideas of variety and allowing people to personalize their service is good, and there’ll probably been enough people on unlimited data plans (or WiFi-enabled phones) to make a solid business, but it won’t be mass-market and the carriers will continue to sell their content. Since the beta trial in September MyWaves has been “adding about 15,000 users per week, bringing its total to 80,000 to date”, which is a reasonably good figure. “At the end of the third quarter, the United States counted about 5.1 million mobile video subscribers, double the number at the end of the first quarter, according to mobile video research firm Telephia.”